September 27th, 2009
12:36 PM ET

Top clubs at fault in U-20 dispute

Diego Maradona, Luis Figo, Ronaldinho and Leo Messi. Just four of the many football stars who first attracted attention at FIFA's Under-20 World Cup.

Inter Milan striker Mario Balotelli should be gracing the U-20 World Cup for Italy.
Inter Milan striker Mario Balotelli should be gracing the U-20 World Cup for Italy.

Over the years, this tournament has featured talented youngsters who impressed scouts and fans alike with their skill and technique.

Many were expecting this year's edition in Egypt to again expose the football world to the next Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo, but we may all be disappointed.

What has changed? Well, Europe's top clubs keep recruiting the world's top teenagers at a younger age every year, and they don't want to risk losing them to injury or fatigue during the season.

Is this right? No. At least not in my opinion. FIFA has expressed its frustration at the European clubs' attitude and I have to agree with them on this occasion.

Many of the players who have been denied the opportunity to represent their countries at this event are sitting on the bench at their respective clubs.

Wouldn't budding teenage talents like Jack Wilshere of England, Mario Balotelli of Italy or Thomas Muller of Germany benefit more from the experience of playing in Egypt than playing a handful of minutes with their professional clubs? It is my opinion that they would.

At senior level, FIFA can enforce rules to make clubs release their players, they should also be able to so on the youth platform as well.

I understand European clubs want to have their best players around, but most of the time they don't even count on their youngsters, giving them limited first team opportunities in second and third tier competitions.

So what I ask is for the decision makers to focus on what's right for these young players. Let's give them a chance to shine. After all, this could be their only opportunity to play at a World Cup, at any level.

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Filed under:  Football
soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. Bernard

    You hit the nail right on its head. FIFA's intervation is really needed to force big clubs to release the so called future stars to tournaments of this stature. I'm particularly disappointed in Fergie for not releasing the likes of Macheda, Welbeck, Rafael and Fabio. Irrespective of some absentees in the tournament, I must say am impressed with some players from
    Brazil, Ghana, Paraguay, Egypt and some others.

    September 30, 2009 at 1:17 am | Reply
  2. Cyril__LAGOS

    The game has gotten too big, too much money involved and so much pressure on the coaches to always come out with a win, thats when experience matters and the older players(highly paid) has got what it takes to win titles. Arsenal FC is a great example!

    October 3, 2009 at 12:04 am | Reply
  3. 浜松ステーションホテル

    I've paid my dues
    Time after time
    I've done my sentence
    But committed no crime
    And bad mistakes
    I've made a few
    I've had my share of sand
    Kicked in my face
    But I've come through
    And I need to go on and on and on and on

    October 6, 2009 at 5:53 am | Reply
  4. itegila monkom

    pedro i think your right they should atleast be given the oppurtunity to represent their countries.i know that the tournament would have more excited if players like Balotelli and Wilshere played

    October 8, 2009 at 8:42 am | Reply
  5. Doug

    FIFA is to blame for this mess.

    The Euro U-21's was still a high quality tourney because it was scheduled properly.

    Scheduling this tournament after domestic leagues already started is what created this problem. Top teams have released their top talents in the past when the tournament was scheduled during the summer.

    FIFA's poor scheduling created this problem more so than top teams not releasing their best talent.

    If anything top teams are in an even better position than smaller clubs to let their youngsters play in these tourneys because they have the depth needed to cover for them, and can bring them along more slowly in their youth teams.

    October 14, 2009 at 12:44 pm | Reply
  6. enriquez

    Interesting to see comments from this part of the world. While a lot of attention are focus on European football, little has been done for Asia and OFC.

    Oceania has fair of talents who can be easily exposed unless FIFA/OFC improve their marketing in this part of the world.

    October 20, 2009 at 6:23 am | Reply

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